As part of taking a job at Microsoft, I left my job with Intuit (great company), sold my house and left San Diego. It was a really tough decision but a combination of professional and personal factors ultimately made me choose to go and so far it feels like the right decision.
What is it like living in Greater Seattle after spending the last 6 years in San Diego?
Well, the most obvious difference is the weather. Luckily, I was born and grew up in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, was intimately familiar with the weather in the Pacific Northwest and knew what I was getting into. Let's look at the weather report from MSN Weather for both San Diego and Kirkland over the next 5 days (december).
Guess which is which 🙂 In general, the weather in San Diego is ideal all year round -- warm, and sunny.
Both San Diego and Greater Seattle are beautiful but I have to give the nod to the Pacific Northwest because it is so green, has big trees and mountain views. San Diego has a number of rolling hills but it just isn't quite the same as snow capped mountains.
And speaking of mountains, one of the real benefits of living in the Pacific Northwest is the accessibility of good skiing/snowboarding -- within 45 minutes I can be on the slopes.
That said, I'll really miss the Southern California experience: theme parks, beaches, lots of shopping, and day tripping to LA, Newport Beach, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Vegas, Santa Barbara or Mexico.
Of course, in Greater Seattle you can day trip it to the San Juan islands, Vancouver BC, Portland, Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens, and the Olympic National Park. Would you rather drink Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara or have the best Chinese food in the North American in Vancouver?
One of the bigger surprises for me was that there really wasn't that big of a difference in the cost of living. The San Diego real estate market has been out of control the last 5 years and prices are really high but the cost of housing in Seattle, especially close to Microsoft (Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond -- affectionally known as the east side) is not much cheaper, probably only about 10-15% less. Of course, WA has no state income tax and you can't beat that 🙂
In a nutshell, I think both cities are wonderful places to live with different benefits. You just can't beat the weather or the Southern California experience in San Diego and you can't beat the easy access to the mountains and beautiful scenery in the Pacific Northwest.